For thousands of years, humans have been passing down their knowledge and insights in the form of books. While many of today’s books are now delivered in digital and audio form instead of paper, their purpose is the same: to inform, educate, and, perhaps most importantly, inspire.
For entrepreneurs, success depends on constant creativity, and books written by and about other successful business owners can provide the jolt of inspiration you need to push forward. We asked 15 Young Entrepreneur Council members to share the one book they turn to when they want to feel inspired.
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill is a masterpiece about achieving success in life. While it was first published in 1925, it is a timeless read. Each chapter is a lesson that ranges from purpose to leadership to self-control. It is good advice for business, but it also provides amazing lessons to use in all aspects of life. – Eddie Lou, Shiftgig
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Tools of Titans is both practical and inspiring, sharing stories, experiences, and insight into lots of different business scenarios. It’s a great problem-solving book. – Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Our natural inclination for the best way to help ourselves is to ask others for help. Dale Carnegie makes a compelling case that the opposite is true and we should instead ask others how you can help them. It is encouraging to be reminded that the best way to help ourselves is by asking others how we can help them first. – Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
David Schwartz’s idea that whatever you think, you become is a powerful way for me to become inspired. His premise is that the quality of our lives is a result of the quality of our thoughts. If we think big, our life becomes a reflection of those thoughts. Once you gain this perspective, then you realize that success is mostly a choice, not a result of circumstances. – Marcela De Vivo, Mulligan Funding
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
I love this book and it has been inspiring for several years. I think every entrepreneur goes through the same journey that the lead character goes through. We all start a journey into the unknown, take a risk in life, meet incredible people, and reinvent ourselves. Entrepreneurship is a journey from inside to outside to unleash the creativity at all costs. – Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
The Top 10 Distinctions Between Winners and Whiners by Keith Cameron Smith
I absolutely love this book. It’s a quick 45-minute read, but it reinforces and reminds you of vital life and business principles. Like staying positive, not complaining, listening more than you talk, being grateful, and seizing opportunities. I’d always share it with new friends or business contacts — and they very rarely give it back. And if they didn’t like it, I knew what I was dealing with. – Philip Michael, New York Equity Group (NYEG)
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius was the last of the five great Roman Emperors and presided over both war and growth. He captured his personal thoughts of his life in a series of books that contain guiding principles on how to live happily, understand the power of the mind, handle criticism, and live life to the fullest. You could flip to any random page and be inspired. – Eric Mathews, Start Co.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
While entrepreneurship is part of your journey, being a founder isn’t the only thing you are. You are also a sibling, a friend, a parent, a child, etc. I find inspiration from ‘zooming out,’ and looking at my life as a whole and considering all the potential roads I can turn down. I find that inspiration is hidden all around me if I open my eyes wide enough to see it all. – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
I turn to The Talent Code as a constant reminder that ‘greatness isn’t born, it’s grown.’ No one was born with the knowledge and talent needed to be successful in their line of work. With practice and perseverance, anyone can master the skills needed to achieve their goals. – Duran Inci, Optimum7
What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
I can’t get enough of Oprah. I have her book on my iPad and when I’m traveling and run out of new material, I’ll often go back and read through my notes and highlights. This book is full of wisdom, insights, and inspiration to keep going with a clear head. – Darrah Brustein, darrah.co
Instant Leadership by Cy Charney
This is a great book that has fast and easily digestible bites on how to be a better leader. He takes a truly holistic approach when looking at an organization and reviewing potential growth points. He’s inspiring and practical. He has multiple books on business but this is my current go-to. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
When I need inspiration, I turn to Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. The book is a must-read because it provides real examples of people who didn’t have money to help them change their situations. Instead, they used their influence. The authors also discuss ways to harness the part of the brain that is resistant to non-preferred things, like saving money. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
Canfield pulls from a lot of classics and writes in a style that is easy to read. I find that when I am really bogged down and not sure how to move forward, just flipping through that book helps me get back on track. – Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design
Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger started as a bodybuilder while he was building up a real estate empire in L.A. He then became a huge movie star, became governor, and is now back in the movie business. It’s so inspiring to know that even if you’re winning in one area, that doesn’t mean that’s the end of your life. You can always rebuild, go in a different direction, or trade upon that success to keep winning. – Alex Berman, Experiment 27
Tao Te Ching by Laozi
When I’m feeling creatively stifled, I like to turn to a random page in the Tao Te Ching. Reading these ancient Chinese philosophical teachings helps to place me in a more calming state of mind that will often lead to inspiration. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a mental palate cleanser. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.